Although Halloween has already passed and the Masses for the dead have been played, we will still have a bit of that spirit within the motoring world as well. A new player has joined the practically dead MPV segment, where only electric cars and electrified models will look. And wonder of the world, it has a four-cylinder gasoline engine and the only battery inside is the 12-volt one.
This multi-purpose vehicle named U-Tour is the responsibility of the Dongfeng car company, which assigned it to the internal Forthing family, which is a slightly higher middle class. And in the Chinese version, this means a rather interesting interplay of characteristics.
First of all, the design, which is very wild in itself at the front. If you complained about the size of the radiator grille (kidney) at BMW, here the grille forms practically the entire nose. In the middle, the illuminated logo of the car has its place, while on the sides you will find LED diode lights.
The side line is formed by a classic pair of doors, while it would not hurt if the rear ones were classic sliding ones, but they are not. However, their opening angle is quite decent, which allows for more comfortable strapping of children or placing them in child car seats. One cannot fail to notice the rear-view mirrors located on the doors, which improve visibility to the sides.
The designers also made the rear attractive, where the end lamps are connected by a light strip, so that when switched on they merge into one whole. By the way, according to our vote, you would also like this solution with the new Skoda Kodiaq.
At the end of this section, we will also mention the wheels, which are 18 inches, but shod with 215/55 tires, so it is not a potentially less comfortable low-profile concept, but also a visually unsightly balloon design. On the other hand, we feel that the wheels are small for the proportions of the self-supporting body. Such twenties would suit the car a little more.
In the name of convenience
The view of the interior may be familiar to you and remind you of the recently tested SUV T5 EVO also from the Forthing family. The fact is that the U-Tour shares the platform and parts of the interior with the T5, but the manufacturer paid a little more attention to this MPV.
The bright concept of the cabin with matching colors looks airy and the design even luxurious. However, you can already tell by touch that the softened dashboard is just playing with the leather upholstery, the wood on the door panels and deck is not wood, and the would-be marble decoration of the central tunnel has not seen this rock even from the plane. In short, it is an acceptable compromise between good looks and price.
Front seats equipped with heating, ventilation and massage can be considered successful. They have a nice shape and electrical settings, but the memory for storing the position is missing. It’s a shame, this small detail is quite important, especially in a family car where the drivers take turns.
The Forthing U-Tour is also not a car where you wouldn’t want to sit in the middle row, as you have heating, ventilation and electrical settings here too. In addition, the seats of the second row can also be moved to the side, which, among other things, makes it easier to get into the third row.
We also like the headrests with adjustable side sections, folding tables on the backs of the first row seats, USB ports located at the end of the center tunnel and on each side seat of the second row, plus their center armrests.
The third row, which folds into the floor, is intended for smaller adults or child passengers. There are also drink holders, or ventilation vents also directed to the side window.
Sharper, richer, more colorful
We were also impressed by the multimedia and instrument panel displays, which have improved in quality compared to the sister T5 Evo. The differences between the two screens are no longer so, the graphics are more legible and the colors are more saturated, which applies especially to the instrument panel. The built-in on-board computer is still primitive, but thanks to the assistance systems, the car has more settings overall.
The U-Tour comes with a basic package of assistants, which includes monitoring of events in front of the vehicle, detection of vehicles in the blind spot and monitoring of driving in traffic lanes. We also have adjustable driving modes and three levels of power steering.
And now for the ghost thing. Since the vehicle has a panoramic 360-degree system, the cameras can create a three-dimensional image monitoring the surroundings through the transparent car at low speeds when the blinker is activated. Be sure to watch the attached video to see how it all works.
This trick is especially useful for allowing you to check any traffic on one side of the intersection more quickly, since you have this image in your field of vision before you turn your whole head. This technology can also help with parking, also with a 2D or 3D display. However, do not expect the image outputs from both displays to reach the quality of Western manufacturers. They are passable, but not top notch.
The model also has phone mirroring, which, however, requires a special application. This feature isn’t exactly user-friendly as it can only mirror the image, so when you turn off the phone’s display, it’s also reflected on the multimedia display.
However, the importer told us that full-fledged Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity should arrive in cars this fall. Since we drove the approval prototype, we can give Dongfeng a chance in this regard.
As long as Superb
From the point of view of the drive itself, we don’t have much to fault the car, similar to its sister SUV T5 Evo. The independently suspended axles are complemented by a 2.9 meter long wheelbase, so sweeping holes in the body does not hurt that much. In addition, the steering is smooth, the acoustic comfort is also at a decent level.
The drivetrain is a turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder with a volume of 1.5 liters, reaching a maximum output of 130 kW (176.7 hp) and a torque of up to 260 Nm. Shifting is handled by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, so changing quality is a matter of seconds.
The absence of a more powerful drive on a front-wheel drive car weighing over 1.5 tons is practically only apparent when overtaking at higher speeds, or when the car is loaded on a hill. Although it is a seven-seater MPV, where it is calculated that you will drive crammed on the roof, the engine is optimally tuned for two adults. You have to think about this in every maneuver that requires some higher speed. In other words, plan a little more ahead as a driver.
If we are to compare the car in terms of comfort and quality of travel, it is definitely a model of an established car manufacturer with solved body torsional stiffness, driving characteristics and basic safety systems. In short, the Chinese are gradually catching up with European and other Asian brands, although they do it in their own way.
Forthing U-Tour is thus a pleasant refreshment of the MPV segment, i.e. a candidate for a family car, which surpasses any SUV or estate car in its variability. It doesn’t look like it from the photos, but the U-Tour is similar in length (4.85 m) to the Škoda Superb with a backpack (4.86 m).
Add to that a relatively good interior, comfortable seating and riding, and solid standard equipment. Sure, the car is weaker, especially in terms of multimedia and display, but it also has a number of features that make it worthwhile to include it in the search engine of interesting family vessels. Just for the price.
Dongfeng Forthing U-Tour starts in a single equipment level at the amount of CZK 814,990, while you only pay an additional CZK 16,490 for the optional color. The car is then covered by a three-year warranty limited to 100,000 km, valid at seven authorized centers in the Czech Republic.
|Specifications||Dongfeng Forthing U-Tour|
|Motor||turbocharged inline four-cylinder|
|Displacement volume||1,481 cm3|
|Performance||130 kW (176.7 hp) at 5,600 rpm|
|Torque||260 Nm at 1,500 rpm.|
|Transmission||automatic, 7 degrees|
|Standby weight||1 550 kg|
|Consumption (combination)||6.8 l/100 km|
|Fuel tank volume||55 l|
|Wheels and tires||215/55 R18|
|Dimensions (length/width/height)||4 850/1 900/1 715 mm|
|Wheelbase||2 900 mm|